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News and resources regarding COVID-19

PM News 9.23.20: IA Still in the C-19 "Red Zone", SD Surge and More

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SPM NEWS 9.23.20 - 5:32PM

The latest White House Coronavirus Task Force report has found Iowa is still in the red zone when it comes to new COVID-19 cases.

The report was released Sunday. It found last week the state had 173 new cases per 100 thousand residents. This makes it seventh in the nation and is nearly double the national average of 86 cases per 100 thousand people.

It says thirty percent of those new cases are in Polk, Story and Johnson counties.

The report repeats its previous recommendation of a statewide mask mandate to help prevent transmission. This is something Gov. Kim Reynolds has repeatedly declined to do, calling the move unnecessary.

It also recommends dramatically increasing testing at universities to quickly find and quarantine cases on campuses. As well as ensuring rapid testing for the state’s long term care facilities.

Iowa’s largest hospital is struggling to keep up with patients’ needs due to a shortage in beds.

Because of a lack of capacity, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is denying some transfers from other hospitals, though it is accepting all covid transfers.

The hospital’s C-E-O told the Board of Regents today patients are arriving sicker and staying longer than usual, leading to backlogs.

South Dakota has reported the highest number of new COVID-19 cases in a single day since the pandemic started, tallying 445 people who tested positive. The state has seen the nation’s second-highest number of new cases per capita over the last two weeks. But Gov. Kristi Noem has continued to say that the state is “in good shape” when it comes to hospital capacity. The Department of Health also reported a record number of people hospitalized by COVID-19 on Wednesday with 192 needing hospital care. Meanwhile, South Dakota public universities reported fall enrollment has declined by almost 3% from last year.

South Dakota Republican lawmakers pushed the state’s high school activities association to reconsider its policy of allowing transgender students to compete in the sport of the gender with which they identify. The activities association currently allows transgender athletes to receive an exemption to compete in the gender category that is different from the sex on their birth certificate. But a similar policy in Connecticut is currently being challenged. The executive director of the South Dakota High School Activities Association, says the association would like to see the outcome of that lawsuit before reconsidering its policy.

Sen. Charles Grassley is continuing to defend his decision to consider a U.S. Supreme Court justice saying he is not a hypocrite for going back on a statement he made to constituents four years ago. Grassley said in 2016 if he were chairman in 2020 during a presidential campaign he would not holder  hearings to be consistent with his position on a President Barack Obama nominee, otherwise it would be hypocritical. He says he’s not going back on his word because his answer was conditioned on being chairman and being in a position to decide whether to move forward on a nomination. 

A state audit released this week asserts that Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections in a process that violated state law. Reynolds named department veteran Beth Skinner as director in June 2019, replacing retiring interim Director Dan Craig. The Iowa Senate approved Skinner’s appointment in February. But state law requires the Iowa Board of Corrections to recommend qualified individuals to the governor when a vacancy for corrections director exists.  The state auditor found that hadn't happened in Skinner's case. It was not immediately clear what — if any — action would be taken as result of the audit. 

A state audit released this week asserts that Gov. Kim Reynolds appointed the director of the Iowa Department of Corrections in a process that violated state law. Reynolds named department veteran Beth Skinner as director in June 2019, replacing retiring interim Director Dan Craig. The Iowa Senate approved Skinner’s appointment in February. But state law requires the Iowa Board of Corrections to recommend qualified individuals to the governor when a vacancy for corrections director exists. The Des Moines Register reports that the state auditor found that hadn't happened in Skinner's case. It was not immediately clear what — if any — action would be taken as result of the audit.

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